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Posted by dwhump3yahoocouk on December 9, 2018

The game was played at the Tynedale Chess Club on Thursday 6th December. The team selection was in doubt up to the last minute. Two of the team mainstays, Pete and Bruce, both suffered illness. Bruce recovered in time to step into the breach. Sadly, Pete couldn’t make it, but, at the eleventh hour, Tim kindly offered to play, and took over Pete’s position on board one. With only 1 point between the handicap scores, it had all the hallmarks of being a close contest.
Board 1:-
Tim, playing black, was up against Phil Walters. Both are 2-handicap players, so they were strong and evenly matched. Phil opened with 1.e4, and Tim replied with 1…e6, the French Defence. *This is most commonly followed by 2.d4 d5, with Black intending …c5 at a later stage, attacking White’s centre and gaining space on the queenside. White has extra space in the centre and on the kingside and often plays for a breakthrough with f4–f5. The French has a reputation for solidity and resilience, although some lines such as the Winawer Variation can lead to sharp complications. Black’s position is often somewhat cramped in the early game; in particular, the pawn on e6 can impede the development of the bishop on c8. *[Ref:- Wilkipedia]. The opening transposed into the Advance Variation. With 3.Nc3, white blocked his c-pawn, which is commonly needed to support the pawn on d4. After 5…c5, unable to protect his pawn with 6.c3, Phil elected to play 6.dxc5, exchanging a center pawn for a wing pawn, ceding a small, but important central advantage to black. Development followed normal lines, with Black playing an early 9…f6 to demolish white’s center altogether. More cracks appeared in white’s strategy when he played 14.Na4. Here, the knight was UNDEFENDED. As is often the case, undefended pieces become a magnet for tactics. Tim spotted one right away. His 14…Nd4 opened a discovered attack on the hapless knight, with his queen, whilst simultaneously attacking white’s queen on e2. The knight was vanquished on the next move. However, capturing the knight took white’s queen away from the kingside. White had no fewer than 4 pieces aiming at black’s king; his queen, knight and both bishops! White, hoping for a mating attack, then sacked his remaining knight with 16.Nxh7. Assessing the strength of sacrifices is never an easy task, but Tim calculated that he could weather the storm. Taking up his guage and smiting white firmly across the face, before casting it at white’s feet, he confidently accepted the sac with 16…Nxh7, with the battle cry ‘Show me what you’ve got, big boy?’ resounding through his mind. With 17.Qh5, white was eyeing down on black’s h7 knight with queen and bishop, but Tim calmly blocked the line of the bishop with 17…Nf5. With 18…Qh4, attacking white’s queen and forcing it into passivity, black repelled all boarders and the ‘storm’ fizzled out into a light shower! Tim went on to win, in 25 moves, with his own kingside attack, utilising the half open f-file, which led to the win of pawn and rook for a bishop, giving him an overwhelming advantage in material.

Board 2:-
Due to Pete being unable to play, I had to put Steve in on board 2, with white, facing Ian Mackay. This meant that Steve was giving away 2 handicap points. That said, it was no easy walkover for Ian.
Steve opened with 1.e4, best by test according to Bobby Fischer, and Ian replied with 1…c6, the Caro Kann. *The Caro–Kann is a common defence against the King’s Pawn Opening and is classified as a “Semi-Open Game” like the Sicilian Defence and French Defence, although it is thought to be more solid and less dynamic than either of those openings. It often leads to good endgames for Black, who has the better pawn structure.The opening is named after the English player Horatio Caro and the Austrian player Marcus Kann who analysed it in 1886. Kann scored an impressive 17-move victory with the Caro–Kann Defence against German-British chess champion Jacques Mieses at the 4th German Chess Congress in Hamburg in May 1885: * [Ref:-Wikipedia] With 2.d4 d5 3.e5, Steve decided to close the center and grab some space. White’s pawn structure is the same as in the advance variation of the French. Once the center is closed, play, necessarily moves to the wings, with White playing for a kingside attack and Black looking for counterplay on the queenside. By move 5, the game has indeed transposed into an advanced French. Steve played 5.Bb5. However, for the next two moves this bishop remained UNDEFENDED, and we all know what can happen when there are undefended pieces in the position. Ian, after breaking the pin on his c6 knight with 6…Bd7, set a small trap for White. After 7.0-0, Black sprung the trap and played 7…Nxe5 attacking the undefended bishop on b5. If 8.Bxd7 then 8…Nxd7 and Black has won an important, central pawn. Play continued until White lost a second pawn. Black then traded down to a queen + pawns versus queen + pawns endgame. Black, with  passed d and g pawns, then managed to infiltrate with his queen and forced Steve’s resignation on move 48.
Hard luck Steve, but there’s always next time!!

Board 3:-
Here, Bruce, with black, took on Dave Willey, who was conceding one handicap point.
The opening played, as I later managed to discover, was the classical Reti opening, with 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4. My database contains 14340 games using this opening, of which 57.8% were won by white. *White plans to bring the d5-pawn under attack from the flank, or entice it to advance to d4 and undermine it later. White will couple this plan with a kingside fianchetto (g3 and Bg2) to create pressure on the light squares in the center. The opening is named after Richard Réti (1889–1929), an untitled Grandmaster from Czechoslovakia. The opening is in the spirit of the hypermodernism movement that Réti championed, with the center being dominated from the wings rather than by direct occupation.*[Ref:- Wikipedia].

After a couple of tactical oversights by white, which, lets face it, we are all prone to, Bruce was able to penetrate white’s position with his queen and secure an overwhelming, material advantage. White sportingly capitulated on move 17.

Board 4:-
Dave Foster met Christine Moorecroft, both with a handicap of 6. Due to errors and omissions on both score sheets, I can’t give a very detailed account of the game. Dave opened with 1.d4 and Christine replied with 1…d5. From here, there are many highways and byways along which both sides can travel. White can stick to Queen’s Gambit territory or play for the Colle System, which turns into a sort of Caro Kann with colours reversed. The pawn structure remained symmetrical for quite a while, which often signals a possible draw. Dave managed to go a pawn up, but then came a series of exchanges that led to a bishops of opposite colour ending. Dave’s extra pawn was firmly blockaded by Christine’s king on d5 but Dave’s bishop was the wrong colour do drive it away. Dave’s three kingside pawns were on light squares. Christine had a dark squared bishop. So, with the kings in front and behind the passed pawn, we had a classic drawing scenario, and a draw was agreed at move 46.


So the Monarchs won 28-23 on handicap. Taking down last seasons league champions was no mean feat, and I extend my heartiest congratulations to the team.

The next outing for the Monarchs is scheduled for 21Feb19, our home, return match against our start-of-season nemesis, the Austins.

As its that time of year again, let me wish everyone a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and continued success in the new year.

Dave Humphreys 09Dec18

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